KickStart: The Speakeasy Three

AN INTRODUCTION TO OUR BAND

Hello Ladies and Gents! We are three lasses from Brighton; Corrine (the sassy Blonde), Elizabeth (the sultry brunnette) and Nastazia (the fiery redhead) and together we make up vocal harmony trio ‘The Speakeasy Three’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7QD-ITvaDw

We gained the accompaniment of the best swing jazz band in Brighton ‘The Swing Ninjas’ along with our fantastic musicians to collaborate on an amazing track by Ella Fitzgerald, called ‘When I Get Low I Get High’.

We are filming on December 2nd at the Proud Ballroom formerly the Hanbury ballroom, a venue which has finally fulfilled its potential as performance venue. The music video will be very much a performance based one, centred around the collaborating groups but also focusing on the 20 or so lindy hoppers and jive dancers taking part, not to mention the 80 or so extras on top of that.
Production wise, we’ve already secured all equipment, venue is paid for, make up, hair, costume and art dept is all sorted as well, so things are progressing well. We are shooting on motion picture cameras (Sony F3 and FS700) and we’ll be employing industry standard grip equipment to allow us a truly cinematic feel (think track and dollies and cranes).What do we need from you?
With the venue secured and equipment already sourced, most of the big overheads are covered, but with over 100 extras and crew not to mention the band shooting for 12 hours, we are worried about people running on empty. Because of all the hard work put in and no money being exchanged between anyone we want everyone to be well fed and at the very least cover their expenses as we feel its the least we can do. We dont expect to feed everyone breakfast, lunch and dinner, but a hot meal and a beer at the end of the day will go a long way!

Want to help  pay for a few expenses and catering for the shoot? Want to be apart of something fun? Then head over to the  kickstarter page to help them reach the last bit of funding they need!!

Black Swamp Village – making of the video

The Speakeasies Swing Band from Greece just came out with a fabulous new music. Not only is there lindy hop, but there are zombies! Take a look!

Oh yeah, and Kevin and I are in it as well. 😀

I wasn’t really sure what filming a music video would be like, which meant I was able to walk in with no expectations of “normal”. I think I romanticized what the process was going to be like – and perhaps like most things, the end product is fabulous – but the creating process is time and energy intensive. Regardless of the time commitment, I had a blast. Here are some picture Kevin and I took during the three day we spent on the Speakeasies “Black Swamp” music video.

The Back Story

MONDAY

Kevin and I were supposed to leave Rome at 9am which meant we caught our shuttle around 6:30am. We arrive exhausted to the airport, only to find out our flight had been rescheduled for 9PM. Fucking excellent. The only thing we could think to do was head to the Hilton down the street and see how much money it was going to cost us to nap. Much to our good fortune, I am apparently a Gold Member of the Hilton Honors which allowed us to stay on the executive floor, have free internet for one computer, and access to food in the lounge. So not all bad. We nap most of the day, check out at 6pm, fly to Greece, and arrive at Alex’s house around 2am (instead of 2pm). Luckily (insert sarcasm here), we’ll get to sleep for 4 hours before the video shoot. Yeah! Long of the short of it is: we are exhausted.

TUESDAY

It’s still dark out when we leave the house around 6am to drive up into the woods. Even though we are fully clothed, we are still cold. Luckily we’re excited to see what the set is going to look like and that makes everything better. Within moments of our arrival, I have a plastic bag placed around my neck and my makeup is being done by a professional. As the sun rises, my inner zombie awakens (see photos). Kevin snaps pictures of the morning sun warming the sky aaaaaand Scary Jo.

Kevin is first up to film. He wanders around at various tempos, takes a knee by the grave, and does more walking. When I’m ready, I sit on a rock in a cape-thing and hold out my hand. You can see in one of the pictures there are lots of people sitting around me making sure my hand “emotes properly” and to check my hair and makeup. 🙂 Finally, we film the ending where I pull back my hood to reveal Scary Jo!

That’s a wrap (at least for Kevin and me)! It’s about 10:30am and we’re done for the day. Alex takes us to eat crepes and we talk about what direction we’d like to go with the dancing and the who/what/where of choreography.

WEDNESDAY

Kevin and I head to the Lindy Hop Greece dance studio to put together choreography for the slow section. After about two hours, we have something we’re happy with. We then move to the group choreography section for the zombies. We thought it would be fun to do a Michael Jackson tribute and to keep it swingin’, so we threw something together, showed it to Alex and Christina, and they liked it! In total, I think we spent about 3.5 hours on choreo.

After rehearsal, I needed to go shopping and find something to wear for the fast section. I didn’t really have anything I thought would read well on video, so I headed to Zara to try my luck. I found a white polkadot shirt with a peter pan collar and a black skirt with a nice amount of flair 😀 Perfect.

Before I went to bed that night, I put my hair in pin curls in hopes that my hair would have some much needed body to it (see photo).

THURSDAY

Filming Day! We arrive at Block 33 around 10am and immediately start on hair and makeup. Even though the place was cold, I was charmed by the exposed brick, abandoned-factory sort of look. Kevin helped with set up as a transformed from “blah” to “yeah” (see pictures) and then we were first up to film. While all the dancers and crew looked on, we did 7 takes on the slow. We never hit it perfectly in any one of the takes, but we were close. Then we filmed closeups of our faces as we walked away from each other. At this point, we were hoping that all of the Zombie Dancers were going to be in full makeup, but mostly people had watched Kevin and me slow dance. Hahah…..that’s amusing to me.

As more zombies are created, I help run through group choreography  with the “humans.” People continued rotating in and out until most knew how to “dance-support” Kevin and me during the flash back sequence. I change and redo my hair, and then did what I could to keep warm. At this point, it’s probably close to 2pm.

One of the fun/difficult things about shooting was the fog machine. Sometimes there was too much and sometimes the fog would dissipate too quickly. Regardless, it was awesome to work with and I think I’d love to have one for the house :p Something else that was difficult was keeping warm and keeping the energy up. The entire experience was exciting, but filming days are long days. What also elongated the day was that Kevin and I don’t speak Greek, so almost everything needed to be translated. We finally wrap up around 10pm that evening.

Coolest part: We talked to the director and crew and explained to them the importance of syncing the dancing to the music and they were totally receptive to it! Now, you might say “Well, yes, of course. Why wouldn’t you do that?” but if you look at other videos with dancing in them, you can find examples where the dancing is in rhythm, but not on beat. Seriously, it happens. So, that being said, it was freaking fantastic that we were able to tell the crew what takes we liked best, had opportunities to look at our lines and make some adjustments, and that they were receptive to our feedback. Woohoo!!

All in all, it was a fabulous experience and I would love to do another one. The days are long, and I can only imagine what it must have been like for the band and crew who had considerably more work than I did. So to all the members of the Speakeasies Swing Band, the crew, and especially to Lindy Hop Greece, thank you from the bottom of our heart for having us.

Filming for iDance

Currently I, along with the other Killer Dillers, am in Asheville, NC filming for iDance.net which means a bunch more clips of me and Kevin and the KDs should be online in the next two weeks. I am really excited about some of the stuff Kev and I are putting up there….so go take a look.

So here’s a quick run down of the filming process:

Get up, eat breakfast, do hair and make up. Wait.
Drive/Travel to the location. Wait.
Fiddle with equipment. Start filming. Wait to render.
Do more filming. Eat lunch.
Continue to film.
Other members arrive where there is a changing of the guards. Wait a little more.
Rinse and repeat.

So as you can see, it’s not particularly glamorous, but it makes for a relatively easy day. The hardest part about filming is having to be concise, eloquent, engaged, and funny at the drop of a dime. Quite a few of the lessons Kev and I filmed today we’ve done plenty of times, but some of them are new for us, meaning we really had to wing it. For example (*snicker), we taught the “Shin Breaker” today. It’s that aerial that you might have learned back in 1999 (if you were dancing that early)….where you are in side-by-side with your partner, the follow jumps onto the leaders leg (landing on her shins), and then she is tossed out into swing out position. You know? Yeah….we’ve both done it, but haven’t really “taught” it per se. Hehe, well, anyways, that’d be rather funny to see if you ask me.

This is mine and Kevin’s third time filming together. We created 4 DVDs in November 2007 (if you’re keeping track, that’s about 2 months after we officially came on the scene together), filmed online clips January 2009 in Australia for iLindy (which subsequently are on iDance.net instead), and are currently filming. What I can say about all of this is that the process gets easier, but only because you are more familiar with it. Currently we are using a spreadsheet to map out what we’re going to teach, the nickname, a description, etc. and it’s eaten up a ton of time, but it makes the organization while filming (and during post-production) significantly easier. The other nice thing is that Kevin and I both know each others rhythm and can easily fill in the gaps where necessary. Finally, we’ve found a formula for us that works: introduce a move, show the geography, demo follower/leader footwork with “kick steps” and with counts, put the pieces together, point out important detail, and then do it to music. Pretty easy.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve got. I am having a fun time filming, learning about new software, learning a new method of filming, and getting to spend some more time with The Killer Diller, and Michael & Jaya, who are two cool cats.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles!